A prominent Co Antrim loyalist accused of a number of firearms offences has had one of the charges against him dropped.
Mark Harbinson (49), of Sheepwalk Road in Stoneyford, near Lisburn, was due to be arraigned at Belfast Crown Court on Friday, January 6 on a total of four charges arising out of an incident in December 2015.
He was not present in court when prosecution lawyer Nicola Aurett told Judge Geoffrey Miller QC: “Following consideration, the prosecution do not intend to proceed with count one, which is possession of a firearm with intent to endanger.”
The arraignment hearing on the remaining three charges - possessing a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances and possessing a 9mm Makaro pistol and 28 rounds of 9mm ammunition without a certificate - was adjourned until Friday, January 20 for further legal argument.
Defence barrister Craig Patton told the court that he would be making a fresh application for bail on that date.
No details were given in court of the nature of the charges Harbinson faces. But during an unsuccessful High Court bail application in November last year, a judge was told Harbinson fled to England after a gun and ammunition were found at his Co Antrim home.
The court was told the semi-automatic pistol, silencer and bullets were found during searches at his Sheepwalk Road address on December 21, 2015.
Police found them inside a biscuit tin in the rafters of a barn beside the property.
A shebeen-style drinking bar was said to contain items associated with the Orange Volunteers, including a banner for the proscribed loyalist grouping.
Harbinson has denied all the charges, with his defence team telling a High Court judge that the seized firearm was in a “decrepit” condition.